Thursday, June 16, 2016

Progeny Press ~ The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide (Review)

Invariably, whenever anyone asks me for recommendations for high school literature, Progeny Press is one of the first names out of my mouth, so I was very pleased to be able to add The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide to our review line up. I was introduced to Progeny Press in 2012 when I reviewed the High School Pride and Prejudice E-guide and Middle School The Bronze Bow E-guide. In 2013 we reviewed Treasure Island and The Hobbit E-guides, 2014 brought The Hunger Games and The Giver. This past fall I got my first look at the elementary E-Guides when I reviewed Sam the Minuteman. I also reviewed another High School Title, To Kill A Mockingbird. In addition to those guides received for review, I have independently purchased guides for Jane Eyre, A Wrinkle in Time, and Amos Fortune, Free Man. I suppose you could say I'm a Progeny Press Junkie when it comes to Middle and High School Literature guides. :)

So, what's all the hoopla about? WHY do I love these guides?

  • Thorough vocabulary lists and a variety of exercises ~ sometimes matching definitions and writing sentences, others listing synonyms and antonyms. Writing their own definitions, then looking up dictionary definitions and comparing the two. The variety of exercises keeps the study from getting dull, which is great. I also appreciate that sometimes the exercises are fairly time consuming, and others they are rather quickly done. To a teen's mind there are few things more time-consuming and dreary than knowing that you have to write the dictionary definition for 20 words in EVERY single unit~ SOOO grateful that Progeny Press shakes things up a bit. ;) 
  • Comprehension questions are actual comprehension questions and not just "Who? What? When? Where?" questions, but  also "How? and Why?" questions, which I often find missing in other studies. 
First and foremost however, in addition to the above, I greatly appreciate the Christian Worldview presented throughout the guide. Although the authors aren't necessarily Christian writers, their works are discussed through a Christian lens. When something doesn't line up with the Bible, it's pointed out. Character qualities are discussed, and moral dilemmas may be considered. The Christian Worldview *may* come through during the Literary Analysis questions which encompass Literary form, technique, and style questions, but it definitely comes into play in the Dig Deeper section. 
Here is an example of a couple of questions in a Dig Deeper section from The Scarlet Pimpernel:

9. A moral dilemma is defined as having to make a choice between two things that are either both right (something one should do) or both bad (something one should not do). The result being that no matter what one does, the consequence is either painful or morally unacceptable. This is often referred to as being “between a rock and a hard place,” because both options are hard and painful. In Chapter 10, Chauvelin confronts Marguerite with a moral dilemma: should she act to save her brother, or should she refuse to act and save the Scarlet Pimpernel and French aristocrats. She should save both her brother and protect the Scarlet Pimpernel; however she cannot do both.
What appears to be Marguerite’s choice at the end of these chapters? Do you think she chooses wisely? What would you have done? Why?

10. Each of us has faced or will face moral dilemmas in our lives. For example, perhaps someone is being bullied in school or the neighborhood, but he or she has asked you not to tell. Do you keep their secret and allow the bullying to continue or do you betray their trust and do you tell someone in an effort to stop the bullying? Two friends are going on a mission trip and both need support, but you can afford to help only one. A family member or good friend is broke and needs a place to live for awhile, but you know that any money they get will go toward alco- hol or drugs and they will bring that lifestyle into the home. Do you help them and let them stay with you, or do you protect your family (and possibly your friend) by refusing them shelter?
Have you ever faced a moral dilemma in your life? What was it and how did you decide what to do? How do you decide what to do when you are faced with a moral dilemma?

Pretty good stuff, yes? ;)

The guide includes "optional activities" that are often opportunities for further discussion. It ends with an "overview" that could be used as a "Final" test, and a list of Essays or Projects that can be assigned.

One of the other things I appreciate is that each Progeny Press Unit (at the high school level) can be counted as 1/4 credit on a high school transcript. That is very useful information for the homeschool teacher! :)

A couple of notes on our specific time with The Scarlet Pimpernel:
Middlest had computer issues, so was not able to take advantage of the interactive qualities of the study guide. (Apparently some computers don't come with Adobe Acrobat Reader, and the program may crash repeatedly when downloaded). This was a little dismaying to my more techie kid, as he would prefer to type directly into the document, but such is life (when his sister had done Progeny Press E-guides, she has simply used a spiral bound notebook for her work, and she's quite happy with that option. :)
Middlest is taking a middle ground approach, and typing his answers into a document, which he can then email to me.

Middlest's thoughts on The Scarlet Pimpernel:
The book started out very slowly, and was difficult to get into, due to lack of action, and getting used to the language. The first chapter was written from a different perspective, so that was also a little confusing. After that it picked up, and was more exciting and action/adventure filled. His favorite part of the E-guide is the vocabulary section, as it has helped him understand more clearly what was being said in the book. He also likes the Comprehension questions because they are more straightforward. Mom's note: The Analysis and Digging Deeper questions are more difficult to answer, and often require an opinion, which is often not forthcoming with him, so they are NOT his favorite part, but they ARE one of the things *I* appreciate the most. ;)

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide, as well as the following titles:
K-3 titles ~ The Minstrel in the Tower and The Drinking Gourd
4-6 titles ~ Mr. Popper's Penguins and The Sword in the Tree
6-8 titles ~ Give Me Liberty and The Indian in the Cupboard
9-12 titles ~ The Scarlet Pimpernel and Great Expectations
As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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